Beauty and the Beast to open Friday in Clinton

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published March 27, 2016 at 12:00 a.m.
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Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

Rehearsing a musical number for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Clinton High School are Libby Walsh, from left, Kylie Blanton, Lee Miles and Katie McHale. They are under the direction of Carol-Gray-Hutto, far right, who serves as musical director for the show.

CLINTON — “Tale as old as time, Song as old as rhyme” — what else could those words evoke other than Beauty and the Beast?

Zac Perry, drama teacher at Clinton High School, hopes members of the community will recall that tune sung by Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts in Disney’s animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, and plan to attend the local production of the musical Friday and Saturday at the Clinton School Auditorium.

“Since it is so well known, I am hoping to fill up this auditorium,” Perry said with a smile. “It’s a crowd-pleaser. It’s appropriate for the whole family, … adults and small children.

“That’s one reason I chose it,” said Perry, who is in his first year of teaching. Originally from Harrison, Perry graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville in 2013 and a master’s degree in 2015. He majored in secondary education with an emphasis on theater. He teaches drama, speech, yearbook and stagecraft at Clinton

High School.

“I opened up auditions this year to seventh-graders and up,” he said. “That means we can have bigger casts. I wanted to make it open to more students. In fact, Chase Blanton, who plays [Gaston’s

sidekick]LeFou, is a seventh-grader.

“I also tried to give strong roles to the seniors, if they felt they could handle them. We have some [seniors] in leading roles, and we have some in the ensemble; there are a lot of big dance numbers with singing.”

Perry said the students have also built the sets for the

production.

“I wanted to make it as much of a student-led production as I can,” he said.

Perry called on a former musical director — Carol Gray-Hutto — to help him with the show.

“I haven’t been involved in theater the past two years,” Gray-Hutto said. “But Mr. Perry contacted me and asked if I would work with the kids on this great show. How could I refuse? I absolutely love the creative process that takes place in putting on a musical.”

She added that she worked for many years with Sallie Parish and Linda Sullins on theatrical endeavors at the local high school.

“We always approached these things in a community-theater manner, so talented and willing adults in the area got to work with great kids, and they learned a lot from one another through the years,” she said. “I feel it’s safe to say if you asked some of the kids in the cast of Beauty and the Beast, they grew up knowing they wanted to ‘do that’ — be on the stage themselves — the productions were that good.

“It is commendable that Mr. Perry is putting this show together with a students-only cast, and while it does make things different, it’s a good kind of ‘different.’”

“I haven’t taught this music so much as the kids have learned it on their own and from one another and from Mr. Perry’s efforts,” Gray-Hutto said. “I have helped as I could and have tried to assist in working out harmonies or unisons, where to tweak melody lines, to find help on cues, etc., but this show is much more Mr. Perry’s and the kids’ product than it is mine. It has just been great to be a part of it all again. I can hardly wait to see it.”

Perry said the students have been great to come to

rehearsals.

“It’s been hard to plan around sports and other activities and jobs,” he said.

“I’ve ordered professional costumes for the show,” he said, adding that the costumes were scheduled to arrive last week while the students were on spring break.

“We’ll have some really extravagant costumes. Lumiere’s candles will really light up. I think these costumes will really help the students get into their characters,” Perry said.

Savanah Trujillo, a senior, plays the part of Belle.

“I am honored to have this part,” she said. “I have been in many of the past productions. If I wasn’t in the play, I helped out with makeup and props.

“I’m really sad this will be my last performance here,” Trujillo said with a smile. “It’s bittersweet.”

She plans to attend Arkansas Tech University but is undecided on her major.

“I don’t plan to study theater, but I hope I can still be involved in it,” she said.

Josh Pryor, a junior, plays the part of Beast.

He has been in several past performances, including last year’s presentation of Bye Bye Birdie, in which he played

Albert Peterson.

Pryor helped build the set, including the west wing of the castle, where Beast retreats when he wants to be alone.

Other cast members include the following:

• Shelby Pistole, a senior, appears as Gaston.

• Lee Miles, a ninth-grader, plays Lumiere.

• Regan McGaha, a senior, appears as Cogsworth.

• Abby Robbins, a senior, appears as Mrs. Potts.

• Julianna Parish, a junior, plays Chip.

• Alahna Martin, a senior, plays Madame de la Grande Bouche.

• Katie McHale, a senior, appears as Babette.

• Quinton Andrus, a senior, plays Maurice.

• A.J. Gonser, a junior,

appears as Monsieur D’Arque.

Members of the ensemble include the following:

• Seniors Chase Cook, Zoe Tester, Kierra Timmons and Jared Widener;

• Juniors Ashley Arnold, Kylie Blanton, Stearling Gale, Jaycie Housley, Ryan Longshore, Alyssa McKnight, David Mendoza, Cecil “Shayla” Nicholson, Jentry Wade, Libby Walsh and Kasey Williams;

• Tenth-graders Leon Fogle, Anna Knoerr, Nikki Pastor and Martin Quintero;

• Ninth-graders Caitlin Moudy, Joey Smith and D.J. Trogden;

• Eighth-grader Abby

James; and

• Seventh-graders Garrison Robbins, Joseph Strawn and Cade Williams.

Members of the crew include juniors Richard Hall and Dylan Tumbleson; seniors Hunter Burgess and Osmar Carrizales; and ninth-graders Chloe Phillip and Kendra Habelitz.

Senior Serena Jones serves as stage manager for the

upcoming production.

Tickets to Beauty and the Beast are $9 for adults and $5 for children and will be available at the door. The musical will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and at 5 p.m. Saturday in the Clinton School Auditorium, 115 Joe Bowling Road.

For more information, call (501) 745-2450, ext. 1012.